Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Orissa connection to Rishya Shringa or Unicorns?

Yesterday, the people of a village called Mahanala of Ganjam district of Orissa walked up a steep hill nearby which is supposed to be the abode of Rishi Shringi.

The purpose of the trek was to appease him so that he would bless them with good rainfall.

Shringi rishi is associated with bringing rainfall.

The Sage by name Rushya shringa who conducted the Putra- Kameshti yaaga for King Dasharatha that resulted in the birth of Rama was known to bring rainfall wherever he went.

The description about this sage and his ways are similar to the legendary Unicorn. He was lured by the king Romapada of Anga desa (who was a close friend of King Dasharatha) to enter his kingdom which was reeling under severe drought. When he stepped into his country, it rained. The details of this has been written in an earlier post

Symbolism of Unicorn in Sanatana Dharma

What intrigues me is that this Rishi is usually associated with places in the Himalayas.

There is a temple dedicated to this Rishi in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh.

The Shringi temple in Kullu

According to the news report from Orissa, his abode seems to be associated with Orissa.

I think this place must have been the original one.

I say this by connecting the episode on this Rishi with Anga desa.

In Varahamihira’s Kurma charka, Anga desa is mentioned as being located in the South eastern direction of the Madhya desa. (The Madhya desa was located around the river Yamuna in the axis that joined Lanka and Kashmir)

Anga desa in all probability was Banga or Vanga desa (Bengal) or somewhere in Orissa.

The hill in the Ganjam district where Rushya shringa lived was close enough to Anga desa, for him to move to the city of Anga by the lure of damsels.

The names of rivers such as Rushikulya and Vamsadhara in Ganjam district – coming down from hill ranges, make me think that some great Past history traced to Ramayana times is hidden in this place. The river Rushikulya starts from the hill called Rushya malya in Kandhamal near Ganjam district where the river joins the sea. The ‘Rishi’ in these names seem curious enough to lend some connection to Rushya shringa.

The existing story about this river:-

Mountain Rishimal is the place of origin of river Rushikulya. It originates in the area of Aska village, which is now the district headquarters of Bahrumpur Ganjam district. It is believed that, pleased with the austerities of rishis, Ganga herself came there as river Rushikulya. It is also said that when the Lord decided to rid this world of sinners, He came to live among the rishis at Rishimal Mountain. There is a story in Kalpadrum Ramayana according to which, when the Lord saw the bones of rishis, He became very sad. For their benefit, the Lord thought of river Ganga, which appeared there in the form of river Rushikulya; as she flowed over the rishis' bones, their souls attained liberation.

(Courtesy:- http://www.tapasvibaba.org/page20.html )

Some questions in this regard:-

  1. Unicorns were unique for this land. Is there a tradition that sighting them will bring rainfall?

  1. The images of unicorns had been found embossed in the seals of Saraswathy- Harappan excavations. Any connection to them with rainfall or bounty harvest as a result?

  1. Have any excavations done or findings unearthed from this hill in Mahanala or in the Rushikulya river bed or in Rishimalya mountains?

  1. If some tradition with Unicorn-connection is found in this hill, would it mean that the Saraswad civilization was widespread and not localized around Saraswathy river – giving it an all India (Bharat) character?





People trek mountain to invoke rain god.

Berhampur (Orissa), Aug 31 Reeling under a prolonged dry spell, residents of a village in south Orissa climbed up a mountain peak to invoke the blessing of the rain god.

Over 40 people, including children, of Mahanala village in Ganjam district trekked to the hill-top, 350 ft above sea level, and performed rituals including chanting of hymns for about two hours yesterday.

"The people of our village have been following the practice on the auspicious day of lunar fortnight of"Bhadrab"to please the rain god," Shyamsundar Dora said, adding that with the prospect of a drought, farmers have now pinned their hopes on the rain god to bail them out.

"We believe that Saint Rushi Shrunga lives on the top of the hill. If we please him along with God Baruna, we will get rain for a bumper harvest,” said another villager Tarakeshu Dora.

"The situation is not too bad now, but if it does not rain in near future, it will worsen and the crop will wither away,” villagers said.

People from nearby rain-fed villages too have also joined in this unique ritual.

Besides, people in several villages in the district also practise"frog dance"or"frog marriage"to invoke the rain god. They dance to the tune of"changu", a musical instrument, holding pots full of frogs on their head.




Villagers trek for rain




Residents of a village in Orissa on Sunday night performed a unique ritual to invoke the blessing of the rain god.

Almost entire population of Mahanala village in south Orissa district of Ganjam, nearly 220 km from here, including the old, women and children trekked a 350ft height mountain in their locality and performed rituals at the hill-top to appease `Baruna', the rain god. They spent the whole night on the hill-top chanting hymns and shlokas and dancing to the beating of cymbals in praise of the rain god, reports reaching here on Monday said.

"The ritual is very risky and fraught with many dangers. It takes almost two hours to scale the steep mountain. We start our journey before sun rise and arrange for puja the whole day. The rituals are performed in the night only," said the local sarpanch Abinash Raul.

The practice is followed on the auspicious day of lunar fortnight of the Oriya calendar `Bhadrab', he added. "We believe that saint Rushi Srunga lives on the top of the hills. If we please him along with God Baruna, the area will receive plenty of rains for good harvest," Harihara Mahapatra, a priest in the local temple, told this newspaper over phone. The village, however, has no record to point to the time of origin of the ritual. Hundreds of people from surrounding villages gathered at the foot-hill to celebrate the occasion.


jayu said...

Dear Madam,
Request you to throw some light on the Ashwa Medha yagam that was conducted during ancient times. Did it really involve the killing of a horse and sex with it as described in Wikipedia?It is tough for me to accept that as I see that it is very tamasic to do that!!Lord Krishna who has clearly distinguished the faith and rituals according to 3 gunas states that "Ashastra vihimtam ghoram" meaning the gory pagan rituals are not enshrined in Vedas. Please clarify this point as the Valmiki Ramayan online edition also suggests the same process (under Bala Khandam)


jayasree said...

Dear Mr Jayendra,

You have raised a vital issue which I have long wanted to write about.

Violence is not supported by Hindu Dharma.
The Ultimate Dharma is “Ahimsa” – “Ahimsa ParamO dharma:”
The only place where violence is supported is in the last verse of Chandogya Upanishad, that says that Violence is not permitted except in the cases where it is done for Vedic dharma.
There is a saying – Vaidee himsa, na himsa – meaning violence done in the process of Vedic purpose, is not violence. But this does not hold good in Kali yuga and no animal sacrifice is authorized in Kali yuga.

Coming to your question,
killing cow is adharmic. But killing a cow that charges towards you to kill you is dharmic.
Killing a life is adharmic. But killing a life for the sake of a dharma of Vedic nature that is done for the benefit of many is not adharmic.
This is the rationale behind sacrifices in Vedic yajnas.

Before going into further details, let me quote from the foreword (Urai peru katturai) of Silappadhikaram, where Ilango adigal says that the Pandyan king who came after Nedumchezhiyan, performed a shanthi pooja to pacify Kannagi to get relief for the people who were suffering form the after effects of the fire and for getting rainfall to cool Madurai. Adigal says that the king sacrificed 1000 goldsmiths in this pooja!!

Why were 1000 goldsmiths killed in the pooja?
If the wrong doer were to be punished, he must have punished the goldsmith who did the deceit. Why sacrifice other innocent ones also?
But then Kannagi also did an unjust act of killing many innocent citizens in the fire who were not at all connected with the wrong done to Kovalan.
Is what Kannagi did right?

But the rationale is hat to bring down the heat and anger of her, the sacrifices were done. It resulted in a downpour that wiped off the heat, drought and sufferings of people!
This is rationale of Yajna.


jayasree said...


Yajna means worship done by give and take.
You offer something in a yajna to get back something.
What you offer is related to what you want to get.
It is like supplementing a deficiency.
If you have weak bones, you gulp calcium tablets.
If your blood count is low, you take food to improve blood count.
In this way sacrifices were done to get back a specific thing.
This is the way Nature works.
This was captured by Vedic wisdom and done for common welfare.

The body is identified on the basis of basic Dhathus (elements) that are localized in specific parts. For instance fats stand for Jupiter and for pushti and growth. One wanting growth, will offer fats in the yajna. If one wants to reap benefits of Jupiter or the lord of Jupiter, he will have to offer fats specifically meant for that.

The Vedic sacrifices are fashioned on this basis and the offering was done connected with the specific goal desired . So many items of that dhatu were offered in vedic fire and the related body part is also one among them. That is how animal sacrifice came into practice.
Certain animals were identified as “Yajna pashu’ whose specific body parts were offered in fire for specific results.

These are for kaamya phalan – to fulfill mundane goals.
The Vedas are a body of knowledge that recorded everything under the sun.
Ishtam manishana Sarvam manishana – says Purusha sooktham.
‘What ever you desire can be achieved.
Everything can be achieved.’
The methods are all recorded in Vedas.

But beyond all these, there is the ultimate goal – that of attainment of the Supreme Consciousness variously called as Sat, God, Ishwara, Brahman, Satyam etc.
It can not be attained by the above means of yajnas.
Those who desire mundane pleasures, are shown the ways through such yajnas.
Those who desire Supreme communion, are also shown the way which is by means of mental yajna – meditation, japa etc.
The Choice is yours.
In the former, the good and bad karma connected to that yajnas attach to you and make you reborn.
In the latter, you sacrifice even your punyam and all dharmas so that you have zero balance and you are not reborn.

This is the essence of Vedas given in 2 parts – the former told through Poorva mimamsa – on methods of doing yajnas to attain desired goals and the latter told through Uttara mimamsa which is about soul’s search about the ethereal Truth so that one rises above mundane searches and meditate towards attaining Final Emancipation.

This is the gist of Vedas.
If some one goes the mundane way and does this or that sacrifice, that is not the mistake of Veda dharma.
But Veda Dharma’s aim is to see that all rise above the mundane searches and reach Him.

Einstein’s discovery can be used to make an atom bomb to destroy the world. It can also be used to cure a remote disease. It depends what use we put into.

We must look at the yajnas and sacrifices and Ashwa medhas etc in this paradigm.
Just for having discovered his theory, Einstein could not be faulted for the drop of atom bomb.
In the same way, for recording the ways of ashwamedhas etc, Vedas and Hinduism can not be faulted.

Everything is recorded and dealt with in Veda matham. Veda matham also tells what we must aspire for – through teachers, gurus, rishis, Upanishads, Brahma sutras and numerous texts such as Gita. It depends on the mental make up of the person in choosing.

I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of ashwamedha yajna. We don’t how much is interpolated. I say like this because the 44 th chapter of Brihat samhita deals with a yajna for horses done before a war or for victory. Varaha mihira gives all details of how this yajna was done including the stars which are ideal for this yajna. He also says that at the end of the yajna, the king rides on the horse for which the yajna was done and marches to the battle field for the fight. This is the way Ashwamedha yajna was done in the times prior to Varahamihira .

jayasree said...

Dear Mr jayendra,
This topic is posted as a separate article.